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Talent Development

Is Your Organization Playing To Win?

Successful companies have a great offensive playbook. If all your energy and emphasis is on day-to-day operations, your organization is not set-up to win.

Football season is essentially over, unless you’re an Eagles or Patriots fan. This season has been a doozy of a dream crusher, or at least, that’s how it feels in my adopted hometown of Minneapolis. We’re hosting Super Bowl LLI after having lost the NFC Championship, which would have put the home team in the big game. It’s brutal and I’m not even a Minnesota fan. (GO PACK GO!) I read a quote somewhere that this is like hosting your ex-girlfriend’s wedding in your own backyard. Ouch.

As they say, there’s always next year and virtually every team is thinking about what needs to change to get it done. Which usually leads to the question: What wins championships?  Most analysts, the real ones and the ones that sit on the couch and eat potato chips, would say it’s the team’s defensive line. My experience is that most organizations are using the same playbook, but is that really the way to win? What about the offense?

We are living at a unique moment in history when rapidly changing technology is reshaping, well, everything. This is especially true for organizational leadership and the way business is done in the 21st Century. It’s a whole new game and it’s time to reconsider the plays.

If your organization waits until change is knocking at the door before taking action, it’s too focused on defense. For example, waiting until turnover rates reach unacceptable heights before considering employee job satisfaction.

The new playbook requires more of a focus on the offense. For organizations, that means having a future-focus. In her most recent book Talent Generation, XYZ University CEO Sarah Sladek calls companies that are future-focused, “The Changemakers”. While other companies are too focused on the day-to-day, Sladek says that, “The Changemakers spend a considerable amount of time thinking about change and preparing for the future.”

If you are spending all of your time and effort engrossed in the day-to-day operations, you’re playing defense. If you’re looking to the future to anticipate the change that is coming, then you’re working with a good offense.

What wins football championships? Popular opinion would say it’s the defense, but statistics would say that you need a good healthy balance of both. It is the same for organizations. You must have a healthy balance of managing the demands of the day, while also looking to the future.

It’s halftime, we’re in the locker room and this is your pep talk. Be a Changemaker and you will win this game! Now it’s time to get back out there, and I’m leaving you with this quote from Google Co-founder Larry Page, “Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.”

Now get out there and don’t miss the future!

 

Jodi Swee is XYZ University’s Youth Culture and Generational Engagement Expert. Book Swee for her most popular speaking topics and strategy workshops on Generations@Work, Like a Boss, and Knowing Y.

 

Purchase Talent Generation here.

More blogs by Jodi Swee.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.

 

Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.

 

Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.

 

Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

Jodie Swee

Together we’re better. This is Jodie Swee’s motto when it comes to generational differences. She has spent the last twenty years digging into the psychology of Millennials and is passionate about helping to bridge the gap with older generations. Jodie's background in sketch comedy sprinkles humor into the realities of our multi-generational workforce.

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